Summer Grooming For Horses Are Carrots Good For Horses? Hay Feeding Selection and Storage How Do You Know If Your Horse Is Unhealthy? Hoof Abscess Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention Trail Riding With Your Horse A Quick Guide To Feeding Your Horse 8 Ways To Help Support Your Horse’s Joints Why Does My Horse Paw At The Ground? Prepare Your Horse For Shipping And Trailering 10 Tips To Prevent Horse Riding Accidents and Injuries Preventing Heatstroke In Horses Keep Your Horse Safe From Bees And Wasps How To Manage Stress In Horses What You Need To Know About Cracked Hooves In Horses Arthritis in Horses Fly Control Tips For Horse Owners How To Protect Your Horse From Sunburn Parasite Control For Horses How To Keep Your Horse Warm In The Winter Preventing Blanket Sores What Are The First Signs Of Strangles In Horses? What Causes Respiratory Problems In Horses? What Causes Arthritis In Horses? Tips To Keep Your Horse Calm While Trailering Horse Digestive Health Tips For Caring For Your Horse In Hot Weather 5 Common Hoof Problems In Horses How To Get Your Horse Ready For Spring What Are The Signs Of A Mare In Heat? What is EPM in Horses? Hoof Care For Horses: How To Keep Your Horse’s Hooves Healthy Tips for Preventing the Spread of Equine Diseases Winter Skin & Coat Care For Horses Can A Horse Recover From Lameness How To Condition Your Horse To Get Them In Shape 7 Common Plants That Are Poisonous To Horses How Much Should I Exercise My Horse? Colic in Horses Signs of Cushing's Disease in Horses How To Prevent Colic In Horses How To Detect And Treat Hock Or Stifle Soreness How To Get Your Horse Ready For Winter Winter Diet for Horses All About Feed Supplements Common Eye Problems in Horses Should You Keep Your Horse's Shoes On In Winter? How Long Is A Mare's Estrus Cycle? What’s The Most Common Disease In Horses? Healthy Treats For Horses Elder Horse Care Tips For Your Horse’s Golden Years How Can I Exercise My Horse Without Riding? Thrush Protection In The Winter Respiratory Health Tips For Horses
Addison's Disease Allergies Anal Sac Inflammation Anxiety Arthritis Asthma Behavior Coronavirus Bladder Stones Cancer Congestive Heart Failure Corneal Ulcers Coughing Cushing's Disease Dental Diabetes Diarrhea Digestive Distemper Dry Eye Ear Infections Ear Mites Fatty Tumors Feline Leukemia First Aid Fleas and Ticks Fungal Diseases Glaucoma Hair Loss Heartworm Disease Hip Dysplasia Horse Horse Lameness Horse Ulcers Hot Spots Hyperthyroidism Hypothyroidism Inflammatory Bowel Disease Joints Kennel Cough Kidney Disease Kidney Stones Kitten Limping Liver Disease Lyme Disease Lymphoma Mange Medication Miscellaneous Motion Sickness Nutrition Pain Parvovirus Poisoning Puppy Rabies Seasons Holistic Senior Pets Separation Anxiety Skin and Coat Submissive Urination Supplements Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight Urinary Tract Vaccine Reaction Vomiting Worms See All A-Z

Horse Digestive Health

Inside your tough, resilient horse is a delicate digestive system that’s easily disrupted.

By protecting your horse’s digestive health, you can care for them from the inside out for an unstoppable athletic career and a longer, healthier life.

Your Horse’s Digestive System
A horse’s digestive system is not quite like our simple digestive system, nor do they have the four-chambered stomach of a ruminant, such as a cow.

It’s something of a cross between the two. The start of their digestive system, called the foregut, consists of their stomach and their small intestine. Food passes quickly through their stomach into the small intestine, where enzymes begin the digestion process.

From the foregut, the food empties into the hindgut, which consists of the cecum, large colon, and finally, the small colon. The cecum is larger than the stomach, and this is where food spends the most time as it ferments, breaking down tough plant fibers into fatty acids that provide energy.

Common Digestive Health Issues In Horses
Your horse’s stomach is small in relation to their size, holding up to just 2 to 2.5 gallons of food and water. It’s constantly secreting hydrochloric acid. If your horse does not eat frequently, their stomach becomes very acidic, which can lead to gastric ulcers.

Turning your horse to pasture to graze can make them less likely to get ulcers. Feeding alfalfa hay can also help, as its high protein and calcium content have been shown to help buffer the stomach acid for up to five hours after feeding.

Ulcers are a bigger problem for horses who travel, affected about 70 percent of horses within a week of attending competitions and fairs. You can use a preventative product like UlcerGard before events to protect your horse against travel- and stress-related ulcers.

Horses are also prone to colic, which affects the hindgut. Colic is a general term for stomach pain. It’s typically caused by stress and may resolve on its own, In some cases, it’s caused by impaction or a twist in the intestines, and emergency veterinary care is necessary to save the horse’s life.

Colic, like ulcers, seem to happen less often to horses who get plenty of turnout time. To protect your horse’s digestive health, they should get many opportunities to graze. If that’s not possible, make sure to provide lots of quality hay.

How To Protect Your Horse’s Digestive Health
Besides turning your horse out to graze as much as possible, there are other ways to keep their digestive system running smoothly.

Always provide a fresh, clean water source. Providing a salt block or adding a small amount of apple juice as a flavor enhancer can encourage them to stay hydrated.

Keep a regular deworming schedule to ensure your horse stays parasite free. Talk to your vet about choosing a dewormer and setting the best schedule for your horse.

Also keep an eye on your horse’s teeth. Dental issues can cause improper chewing, which can lead to indigestion.

Contact your veterinarian if your horse has symptoms of digestive issues, including diarrhea, constipation, pain (often indicated by rolling or pawing at their belly), drooling, bloating, and sudden changes in appetite.